The online sports books know that this season was a shortened one, but that does not take away from the high quality of hockey that we are seeing in these playoffs. When an NHL team works hard to make the playoffs in a season, that team can sometimes suffer from a drop-off the next season that sees the team missing the playoffs. It happens to championship teams all of the time. But there were some playoff teams in this season’s tournament that the betting sites suggest that we all keep an eye on in the future.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Even before Marian Gaborik showed up in Columbus from the New York Rangers at the trade deadline, the Blue Jackets were already the biggest surprise in the league. The reason that many online sports betting experts feel that the Blue Jackets will be a force next season is that the team is now young and talented. As soon as Rick Nash left for New York, the Blue Jackets immediately settled in for a rebuilding phase with its young players. But many of those young players stepped up and with surprise Vezina Trophy finalist Sergei Bobrovsky in net, this team will be something to keep an eye on.
Detroit Red Wings
The biggest surprise out of Detroit in these playoffs was the massive improvement seen in goaltender Jimmy Howard. Many online betting fans wondered if Howard was really the goalie that the Red Wings could build around. He would follow up stretches of brilliant performances with complete collapses. But Howard was a wall in net for Detroit and the Red Wings now have a goalie that they can build around.
New York Islanders
It is really risky to say that the Islanders will be a team to contend with next season because of the big distraction the team will be facing. Next season is the team’s last one on Long Island. Starting in 2014-15, the Islanders move to the Bronx and everything will be different. But the move to the Bronx worked out good for the Nets in basketball, so maybe the Islanders will use the pending move as motivation to continue to improve.
Washington Capitals fans may have that “here we go again” feeling about their team and they may be right. But the Capitals did look energized in the playoffs, especially Alex Ovechkin. With the way in which goaltender Braden Holtby continues to develop, it looks like this Washington team could be a force in the 2013-14 season.
St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues could be the most unlucky team in the NHL. Just when it looked like St. Louis was going to compete in the playoffs, injuries set in and turned everything upside down. In 2013-14, the Blues will be healthy and the team will probably pick up a couple of scoring wingers as well. With all of that in place, St. Louis should be dynamite in the playoffs.
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